President, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Ayuba Wabba on Friday chided the Nigeria Governors’ Forum over its decision to back the deregulation of petroleum sector expected to sky-rocket the pump price from the current N163 to 380 and N408 per litre.
He regretted that the governors’ decision was an indication of ignorance of the numerous sufferings of the Nigerian masses by the nation’s political leaders.
Speaking at the 21st National Delegates Conference, NDC, of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)held at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, Wabba however said it was not time for the masses to lament and agonize, but to organise themselves to fight the challenges bedeviling the country.
He said, “The increase in fuel pump price is an indication that they don’t understand the situation of the Nigerian state and the poverty level of the citizenry. That’s the disconnect. Everything about Nigeria is about blame.
“Today, Nigeria is on cross roads. After 20years of democratic experience, we’ve not made the progress we ought to make. But let’s not continue to lament and agonize, Instead, let’s organise.”
Describing the union as the intellectual arm of working-class struggle in Nigeria, Wabba commended ASUU leadership for remaining consistent in ensuring ideologies of its founding fathers were not lost.
He stressed that access to quality education remained the only solution to breaking the gap between the rich and the poor, adding, “as intellectuals should insist that our children have quality education which will assist in tackling insecurity, kidnapping and banditry. We have a responsibility to lead the discussion through intelligence.”
Earlier, President, Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi disclosed that no fewer than 30 of its members lost their lives to COVID-19-related complications.
He regretted that many of the victims had battled the attack with resources from colleagues and other people of goodwill following the deliberate starvation of their salaries from concerned authorities.
He said, “We must place on record that COVID-19 did not spare our campuses. Many of our infected members had had to combat the COVID attack with resources from colleagues and other people of goodwill.
“This is because their salaries and emoluments as well as the Union’s check off deductions were either withheld by the office of the accountant-General of the federation over the rejection of the discredited Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information Systems (IPPIS).
“Our other comrades suffered the same fate in the hands of overzealous State University Vice Chancellors and visitors. As a matter of fact, we lost at least 30 comrades, including past branch officers to COVID-related complications in the process.”
While praying for the repose of the soul of the deceased who he said could have been saved with access to better healthcare facilities, Ogunyemi regretted that the body was yet to come out of the woods.
“As we’ve consistently demanded, State and Federal governments in Nigeria must learn from on our avoidable losses from the COVID-19 crisis to bring about the much-needed turnaround in our health and education sectors,” he added.
The ASUU boss further appreciated Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, the Nigeria Labour Congress and others who he had cause to work with during his reign, adding, “in the last three years, ASUU has enjoyed tremendous goodwill from quarters too numerous to mention.
His words, “Despite being a government official, the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund has never denied his training in ASUU and the role played by the Union in midwifing the intervention agency.
“The Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission is also another rare breed who projects his clear understanding of ASUU’s mission at every meeting with the government. May their race multiply!
“We equally appreciate the intervention efforts of the Hon. Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu as well as his Labour and Employment counterpart, Sen (Dr) Chris Ngige when it mattered.
“We cannot thank them enough. Our profound appreciation equally goes to the Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, who has continued to play significant roles in getting our matters resolved in the last one year.”
Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Charles Esimone described ASUU as the soul and conscience of the Nigerian University System.
“It has fought and continues to fight many battles, sometimes getting bruised in the process, not merely to better members welfare, but more importantly for a more congenial University ambiance where teaching, learning and research can be more meaningful,” he said.
In his part, Chairperson, ASUU, UNIZIK chapter, Comrade Steve Ufoaro expressed appreciation to the management for donating the land for the construction of the building, just as he thanked his members for the support in making the dream a reality.
He said the completed part of the Secretariat was the first phase of the project, which included the auditorium, library, gym and conference hall, adding that the second phase would be the business section while the third phase would be the guest house.